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Starliner team confirms crucial space mission is ‘go for launch’

NASA and Boeing are making final preparations for the second uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

During a special meeting on Wednesday, the team announced that the Starliner mission is “go for launch” on May 19.

Starliner, we are go for launch.

In today's Flight Readiness Review, Boeing, @NASA and its international partners gave a "go" for Orbital Flight Test-2.
Thank you, NASA, for working side-by-side with us to prepare for #OFT2.

Learn more: https://t.co/AsIXVDWQHn pic.twitter.com/DeiOdXFND9

— Boeing Space (@BoeingSpace) May 11, 2022

“NASA and Boeing are proceeding with plans for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) following a full day of briefings and discussions during a Flight Readiness Review that took place at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida,” Boeing said in an update on its website.

There’s a lot riding on next week’s mission as it follows a failed effort to send the Starliner to the ISS in December 2019 when software issues prevented the spacecraft from reaching the intended orbit. A second flight attempt, in August last year, also ended in failure when technical problems prevented the launch from going ahead.

After launching from the Kennedy Space Center atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on the evening of May 19, the Starliner will reach the ISS about 24 hours later. It’ll stay docked for up to 10 days before returning to Earth in a parachute-assisted landing in New Mexico. As part of the mission, the spacecraft will carry hundreds of pounds of cargo to and from the space station.

If Boeing can prove the safety and reliability of its Starliner capsule in the upcoming test flight, NASA will have another vehicle it can use for astronaut flights alongside SpaceX’s successful Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that involves the space agency working with commercial companies to develop and fly human space transportation systems.

“The most important step right now is to go fly this orbital flight test uncrewed to test the key systems on Starliner, including the rendezvous navigation system and the NASA docking system,” Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich said on Wednesday.

Sounding a positive note following the Starliner’s troubled start, Stich added: “The hardware is ready, it’s great to see the team in place to go fly the flight … we’re excited to fly, and Starliner is a great vehicle.”

Earlier this week Boeing shared a time-lapse of the Starliner being stacked atop the Atlas V rocket in preparation for next week’s launch.

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